How Do We Make Sure These Two Horrific News Articles Stop Happening?

by | May 2, 2022 | Abuse | 27 comments

How do We stop Abuse and Victimization?

I read two terrible news articles over the weekend that had me grieving and got me all riled up.

News article #1: A woman reports her rape to her Christian college, and is then is banned from campus for having pre-marital sex.

NBC News explains what happened:

When Mara Louk told an administrator at Visible Music College, where she was a senior, that a male classmate had choked and raped her last November, she expected that school officials would help her file a police report and arrange a safety plan.

Instead, she said in a federal complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Education on Wednesday, administrators at Visible, a Christian college in Memphis, Tennessee, accused her of breaking school rules against premarital sex with a different student, an ex-boyfriend. She denied having sex with him but said the school threatened to expel her unless she signed a confession and finished the school year remotely.

NBC News, She told her Christian college she was raped. Then she was banned from campus.

The timeline looks like this:

  • November 2: A male classmate comes over to her apartment to play board games. He rapes her.
  • November 3: She tells the school administration because he’s in her classes and she doesn’t want to get harrassed
  • November 4: She files a police report
  • The following week: The police say there isn’t enough evidence to proceed with a criminal charge
  • November 15: The school tells her and her parents that there is nothing they can do because the police failed to file. Meanwhile, the accused student had told the administration that she had had sex with an ex-boyfriend, and the ex-boyfriend confirmed it. She denied it, but the school accepted these accusations and told her she was banned from campus.

And people wonder why women don’t report.

Now let’s look at an even worse case.

Case #2: A young mother is strangled to death by her abusive, porn-using entitled husband.

Amber Guichelaar was killed by her husband Richard, who initially strangling her in her bed, while their 8-month-old lay in a crib nearby. Later, when police found notes that Amber had written about all the physical abuse, and the question she asked herself–“am I safe sleeping next to him?”–Richard changed his story.

But friends and family described this sham of a marriage:

Indeed, friends told police Richard Guichelaar did so little around the house that Amber Guichelaar basically had three children: the two girls and her husband. The imbalance of duties sometimes prompted fights, according to one of the close friends.

“(The friend) did not know of any physical violence between Richard and Amber. (She) stated that when she would hear about these fights it would be after the fact when Amber would mention it during conversation by saying things along the lines of Richard is doing better because he broke his Xbox,” Dykgraaf reported.

“(The friend) stated the most recent fight she could think of was during the initial COVID 19 outbreak when everything was locked down and everyone was quarantined in the house together. She stated she did not know what the fight was about, possibly Richard not helping with children, but Richard picked up the high-chair and broke it,” Dykgraaf wrote.

One thing Richard Guichelaar did do, despite his wife’s vehement protest, was watch pornography. The couple fought over the issue in text exchanges one week before the murder.

When Amber’s sister asked by text what she wanted for her birthday, she replied, “a new husband.”

Two days later, Amber Guichelaar was dead and police had a prime suspect in her husband.

Susan Samples, Am I safe sleeping next to him?’: Murder victim’s words expose husband

I want to review many of the aspects of their marriage that came out in the trial:

  • Richard kicked her, punched her, and physically abused her
  • Richard refused to help with the 2-year-old and the 8-month-old, and became enraged if the baby woke him up at night, so that Amber had to get up immediately and make sure the baby didn’t cry
  • Richard became enraged if the house got too hot or too cold, and took that out on Amber
  • Richard routinely broke things in the house–a high chair; a TV; furniture. He smashed her cell phones, punched holes in the wall, and more
  • Richard refused to do any housework at all and became angry if she asked him to help
  • He was a master storyteller and could get people to believe his version of things
  • He watched porn constantly

The trial also heard how he was violent as a child and teen and his family was afraid of him. He would threaten to burn down the house or hurt people.

What we see here is a man who feels completely entitled to life the way he wants it.

If Amber did anything that wasn’t the way he wanted it to be, he felt that gave him the right to hurt her, hurt her things, or rage at her.

His abuse, in his mind, was her fault, as many abusers say, because he felt entitled to life exactly on his terms. 

This is one of the things that porn repeatedly teaches people, too, and why it’s so destructive the longer you’ve been using it. Porn teaches the user that you deserve to get gratification any way you want it, and that others exist only to gratify you. Porn breeds and feeds narcissism. Though not all porn users will have this effect, many definitely will. And in marriages with this kind of violence, or in sex crimes, porn pretty much always plays a role today. So though it doesn’t hurt everyone, those who end up hurting others almost always have a link to porn.

Here’s what I want people to see: that entitlement did not show up only in physical abuse. It showed up in how he treated his children (they were entirely her responsibility, and their legitimate needs were an affront to him). It showed up in how he expected the household to run (he should not be expected to do any work for himself; other people exist to serve him).

Church, can we start recognizing red flags?

Please, can we start seeing that the way that the church often encourages us to do life–where the house and children are entirely her responsibility–can breed narcissism? Can we recognize that this entitlement is the root of abuse? 

No, not every man who never changes a diaper will hit his wife. But pretty much all men who are abusive like that are terrible parents and feel entitled to having his wife serve him. No, not every man who never does housework will choke his wife, but pretty much every man who chokes his wife will also refuse to do housework.

We need to recognize that entitled behaviour in any one area is a red flag and means that the man should be shunned because he is not safe

  • If he uses porn and refuses to stop or work at his recovery
  • If he won’t care for the children
  • If he insists his wife serve him and refuses to do housework
  • If he spends money as he wants but she isn’t allowed to

These things are often evident even in a dating relationship. If he is entitled, he is not a good marriage partner. 

Amber was very involved in her church, and had gone on missions trips.

Amber loved Jesus. She met Richard when she started teaching at a Christian school where Richard’s dad was the principal. She met him in Christian circles.

And he still killed her.

And this is going to keep happening, and keep happening, and keep happening until something is done.

Women and our allies, it’s up to us.

I’m going to be blunt. We can’t stop abuse and rape by changing laws or changing policing or changing church policies. These things are all important, and we need to keep at those efforts, and I do believe in them.

But bad men will always exist. (I understand bad women exist too, but when we’re looking at homicide rates or rates of sexual violence, domestic violence is a leading cause of death among women. It isn’t comparable the other way around).

Do you know what will stop things? If women refuse to support institutions that harmed us. Imagine if all the girls (and their allies) walked out of classes at Visible Music School. Imagine if no girls (and allies) decided to enroll next year.

And when it comes to men, what if we raised a generation of girls who could recognize red flags? What if we raised a generation of girls where instead of pounding “submission, submission, submission” into their brains, we taught them “red flags, red flags, red flags”?

Mara recognized red flags.

When she was sexually assaulted, she reported it. She didn’t blame herself. She knew it was wrong. But the system failed her.

And so it isn’t enough to just see the red flags in the men we’re with. We have to see them in the systems, too. In the universities. In the churches. In our families.

We need to start saying, “I will only go to places that are safe. I will only be with people who are safe. I will not support or encourage any sort of entitled behaviour in men.”

I don’t know what that would look like, but I keep coming back to Beth Allison Barr’s question at the end of her book The Making of Biblical Womanhood:

What would happen if we all just stopped?

What if we refused to date these guys? What if we shunned them socially? What if we refused to go to churches where men like these were in leadership? What if we refused to go to churches where male entitlement was preached? What if we refused to send our girls to universities where they didn’t handle sexual assault complaints appropriately?

What if we all just stopped?

Because Amber deserved better. Her children deserved better.

Red flag, red flag, red flag. Let’s teach our girls to recognize them. Things have to change.

Are you in a marriage with one of those red flags?

Please know that you do not need to tolerate this. You can draw boundaries. If it is unsafe for you to draw boundaries, please call a domestic abuse hotline:

If you recognize yourself in these stories, please contact a Domestic Violence Hotline

  • Canada: 800.799.SAFE (7233)
  • United States: 1-800-621-HOPE (4673).
  • United Kingdom: 08 08 16 89 111
  • Australia: 1800 015 188
  • New Zealand: 0800 456 450
  • Kenya: 0-800-720-072
  • Nigeria: 0800 033 3333
  • South Africa: 0800 428 428

But please know: You do not have to tolerate porn use. If he refuses to get help, refuses to quit, or is secretive about it, tell others. Seek out support groups online. You don’t have to accept this or keep it quiet.

If he feels entitled to be looked after by you without putting in effort himself, please think about learning boundaries. Check out my series on Iron sharpening iron. Read the book Boundaries in Marriage. Do something. It won’t get better on its own. And I’m so sorry that you’re walking through this!

How do we stop abuse and victimization of women?

These stories have just gutted me this weekend. What’s your reaction? What can we do?

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

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Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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  1. Codec

    More and more I find myself fascinated by the question “why”?. I find myself wanting to read Jay Stringers book Unwanted. I find myself wondering if similiar books exist on the subject of violence or what kind of characters and stories we are drawn to.

    I look at the fact that sometimes I feel entitled and it scares me. I want to help people. I look at people who are crying and I feel compelled to hold them.

    You talk a lot about safety. I have to wonder if safety can be associated by some as weakness cowardice malaise etc. Afterall if Bilbo focussed only on the safety of his home he never would have gotten back.

    Abuse stories honestly make me feel sad. It can be scary how one can see signs that blare ” dont” when you are looking as a bystander. It is harder if you are in the midst.

    I am thankfull I can talk to you all.

  2. Anonymous please

    My daughter attended a Baptist College. During her senior year she was raped by a fellow staff person at the church where she was doing her internship. We declined to press charges against him because we knew the court would brutalize her because it was at a party and she went with him willingly to the place where it occurred. The church handled the incident exactly right by firing the guy, barring him from campus and encouraging her to report it to the police. The school told her that based on what they were told, she acted like she wanted it. My blood still boils when I think about their response. A young woman working as an intern at a church in preparation for a career in ministry wanted to be raped? What? Thankfully, it was her final semester and she finished and left. I cannot recommend this college to any one. I am also sad that I never taught my daughter how to fight to maintain her physical boundaries. A good swift kick in the groin could have shut this situation down. Instead she did what she had been taught and told him to stop and waited for him to do the right thing. We have to do better by our girls.

    • Laura

      I am so sorry that your daughter had to go through this. It just breaks my heart. I’m glad to hear that at least the church was ethical, but the college, not acceptable.

  3. Em

    Richard’s problems go far beyond “entitlement” on his part. Porn and entitlement are two symptoms of a much greater issue that clearly began in childhood. I just think it’s important to point out that while their story absolutely falls under a tagline of “abuse”, he had some serious mental health issues as a child that were clearly not addressed. *This could also be a reflection on the church since it appears he grew up in the church and perhaps his behavior was always excused* But abuse which leads to murder is clearly the work of a master manipulator with deep psychological issues that have not been properly treated.

    • DV survivor

      That’s the real issue – entitlement in the abuser, and excuses by those who witness the escalation of the abuse. As a victim of severe abuse by an extremely entitled abusive man (who still calls himself a dedicated Christian) with a family who call themselves “dedicated Christians” and yet half of them know about the abuse and are willing to lie for him and even make false allegations against his victims for him, and the other half either know about the abuse and who think prayer alone is the way to go, or who deliberately choose not to know about the abuse (refusing to listen to any evidence of it), I am disgusted as to how so called Christians act in response to abuse. One of my abuser’s family who is a senior minister of a large church has actually been involved in making false allegations to the police about me when my violent exhusband abducted our daughter across state borders when family court orders were clear our daughter was to be in my care. Thankfully I had recorded my interactions with this “minister” so I had conclusive evidence showing he had lied, and this minister openly acknowledge that he had hidden my daughter from me [and therefore the police trying to locate her] in a church rectory, but his church (a major denomination) refused to formally do anything about a minister who was involved in abducting an hiding a child and making false statements to police, instead just said they’d have a local bishop have an informal, off the record chat to the minister to not do it again. The false allegations to police cost me a civilian job with the police that I had quite literally just started (my way to finally get out of the poverty my husband had left me in when he took our home and savings and left me with the debts) and all the minister gets is an unofficial chat telling him it’s not good to make false allegations about battered women to police or to help abduct a battered woman’s child.
      Sadly my situation isn’t even the worst I’ve heard of churches doing abuse victims either.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Oh, that’s just so awful. I’m so sorry. I hope you have custody now and you’re in a safe place.

    • elf

      This is a very important comment. The framing of this whole blog post is very troubling to me, though I can’t put my finger on why. I feel it needs to be reviewed by an expert in intimate partner violence / domestic violence and homicide.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’d say absolutely–most murderers definitely have deep psychological issues. But I think the fact that psychological issues are so often aimed at controlling and victimizing women also means something. The fact that women are the chosen victim is often because culturally we’ve been primed for that.

  4. Emily Boucher

    So tragic. My prayer for women and people everywhere is that we will STOP supporting harmful churches, resources, and people.

  5. Laura

    Wow, just wow, and not a good wow. A bad wow. I saw the first news story on Facebook but could not bring myself to read it. I am a survivor of marital rape and my ex believed he was entitled to sex on demand or if I wasn’t giving him enough sex, he believed it was okay to look at porn and visit strip clubs. Like he could get sex from those things.

    Whenever I initiated sex, he refused and would say, “Now you know how I feel when you say no.” Well, he told me to initiate sex more often, but I think he preferred to have sex when I was asleep and could take advantage of me. Sick. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s what Richard did to Amber.

    It also does not help that churches perpetuate this male entitlement when it comes to sex, household chores, parenting, finances, and decision-making. The husband should be allowed all the sex he wants and it doesn’t matter if the wife is sick, just had a baby, is on her period, or exhausted. Household chores and parenting seem to be left up to the wife and the husband doesn’t think he needs to contribute. Yet, he gets to control the finances and make the decisions because that’s what these male-dominated churches encourage and insist this is “God’s way.”

    No wonder I am not interested in attending church anymore even though male entitlement is not constantly preached, except maybe twice a year the submission doctrine is preached. I am still bothered by the last Fathers’ Day sermon my pastor preached about husbands being priests of their homes. There is no verse in the Bible that says that. There was one other time he talked about submission, then said, “But, it’s really my wife who is the boss.” His wife was in the front row and he said to her, “Isn’t that right, honey?” Well, even though this has been preached twice in the four years I attended this church, I am still bothered by that.

    When I was recently saved at 17 and first heard this doctrine preached, I decided I did not want anything to do with the God of the Bible because I believed He was a male chauvinist. So, I walked away from church for several years. I didn’t have an understanding of the Bible back then. Now that I’ve read a lot of the Bible and realize the context it was written, this time I’m walking away from organized religion, not God. There is a huge difference.

    • DV survivor

      Thank you for sharing your story. I’m so sorry to hear what you’ve gone through. My exhusband (second exhusband sadly) never raped me (my first exhusband did – raping me just days after surgery when I had stopped birth control for just a few weeks because of high blood clot risk, is how I fell pregnant with our daughter), my second exhusband however was one of those men who was obsessed with porn and self pleasure and got off on having me try to initiate sex only to have him deliberately constantly reject me. It’s like he got some kind of deviant sexual pleasure from having me ask for sex only for him to reject me and try to make me feel like a pervert for wanting sex 2-3 times a week with my husband (instead of 2-3 times a year like he told me was “normal”). He used to take great pleasure in rejecting me for sex and putting me down for wanting sex.

  6. Cynthia

    I was just reading about some positive steps that came out of an enormous tragedy. In February 2020, 4 year old Keira Kagan was found dead at the bottom of a cliff with her father. Her mother had asked the family court to suspend his access or at least require it to be supervised, but the judge delayed making any decision and left the unsupervised access in place while waiting for more evidence and giving the father time to respond. By the next court date, they were dead in what looks like a murder-suicide.

    Her mother, Jennifer Kagan, had told the court all about the physical, emotional and sexual abuse she experienced from the father, and also mentioned his pathological lying and manipulation and the times that he would refuse to return Keira after a visit. Judges tended to brand this all as just a “high conflict divorce”, using language that painted both of them as the problem. They also saw the abuse as just a matter of the father’s treatment of Jennifer, and didn’t think it was relevant to his parenting since he hadn’t directly abused Keira.

    Dr. Kagan and her new husband, Philip Viater, have worked tirelessly to address problems in the family court system and advocate for victims. On Friday, Keira’s Law was introduced in the House of Commons and has received unanimous approval by the MPs. Hopefully, we will have a law requiring training for judges on family violence and coercive control soon, to prevent these concerns from being dismissed and ignored.

    • Laura

      Something similar happened to a former classmate in my hometown. About 13 years ago, her ex-husband shot their teenage daughter then killed himself. I think his actions were due to custody issues. What is heartbreaking is that this classmate of mine has never been the same. She has not been able to move forward in her life and it breaks my heart.

      • Cynthia

        That’s heartbreaking.

        Unfortunately, violence doesn’t end just because the marriage ends. If the abuser is really angry and controlling, they can become more dangerous and look to hurt family members or pets as a form of revenge. It’s terrifying, especially because it is so difficult to get court orders for no access.

      • Cynthia

        We are taking some small steps. The recent amendments to the Divorce Act, which took effect only after Kaira’s death, also do away with the “maximum contact” rule and make it explicitly clear that evidence of family violence, including coercive control, is relevant in deciding parenting arrangements.

        Here is the trial decision in custody and access in Keira’s case. Note that the judge frames this as a high-conflict he said, she said, matter where he couldn’t draw any conclusions and tries to call violent sexual behavior by the father sado-masochism that the mother may have wanted. This was despite the fact that there was evidence from others that the father had forced a dead mouse into the mother’s mouth, that the father had tried to have an extra-marital affair and told the potential partner that he liked S&M but his wife did not, that he was clearly caught in several significant lies and that he had taken the baby and refused to return her. This wasn’t a couple that just fought a lot and may have been kinky – this was a pattern of violence and control by the father toward the mother.

        • DV survivor

          My exhusband repeatedly abused both of my daughters and yet the family court refused to return my daughter when he abducted her when he first separated, I’ve fought hard just to get her home one day a week while she continues to report serious abuse and neglect. Why? Because courts act like women raising the issue of abuse are “crazy” and “alienating the father from the child” and that that is worse than actual beatings and other abuse. My ex often refuses to hand my daughter over for the previous one day a week the court has ordered him to but the courts won’t do anything about this. Sometimes he does it for months at a time. My older daughter has moved interstate for college, only coming back for holidays, but my exhusband choose then as the most often time to withhold my younger daughter so my kids (who once were extremely close despite a large age gap, even sharing a room before I separated from my husband), have now not seen each other in 18 months. And only once since my older daughter left for college over two years ago. Family court is so messed up.

  7. A2bbethany

    The importance of teaching children to be safe and not ignore red flags. Even if nobody else picked up the feeling! I feel like the only way to protect your loved ones is imparting wisdom for boundaries. Like maybe make it into a required course in schools (homeschoolers too)?

    to learn to have personal boundaries, for safety.
    Of course adults would be tempted to political-ize it up and or insert religious beliefs (definitely homeschooling curriculum people).
    But it needs to be basic teachings on recognizing abusive cycles and the ways they can get help. Maybe introduce it at middle school age? (I’m thinking about the growing trend of highschools requiring a financial class, to educate about taxes and living on a budget. why not have a class on what abuse looks like and kinds of need flags?)

    • A2bbethany


    • Laura

      Boundaries are very important and I agree they need to be taught to children. Not just physical boundaries, but emotional and relational boundaries need to be taught. I used to think setting boundaries meant I would lose a friendship or relationship, but if that be the case, then those friendships and relationships were not good ones to begin with.

      Before I was married to my ex-husband, I didn’t establish boundaries in the beginning and when I finally did after our marriage, it just wasn’t good.

  8. DV survivor

    Sheila your article is spot on but I have two questions…

    What about those who can’t get help to escape the abuse and/or can’t escape without the misogynist family court giving our young daughters back to their violent fathers because the courts consider women raising real abuse allegations in court to be a greater parenting sin than men beating their children? So many organisations say they help battered women but in reality, in some places women genuinely can’t escape without being killed or having their children taken by their abuser and abused instead. What are women in that situation to do?
    And my second question… so many times I have heard Christians say that abuse is a secular matter that secular authorities (eg police, child protection, family court, etc) should deal with, however, many women find when they leave their abuser, particularly if their husband is friendly, charming, and “an upstanding member of the church community”, that no one wants to believe them, least of all the secular authorities. In some places, these secular authorities can be so misogynist that they will actively support the abuser, where these authorities know about the abuse and instead of protecting battered women and children, they will help the abuser cover up the abuse, help them get custody to continue the abuse and bully the women and children to try to scare them into silence. (Acting as “flying monkeys” for the abuser).
    Where this is occurring (where a Christian knows the abuse is real and knows the battered woman and her children are not getting help from secular authorities like police, child protection and family court), I’m guessing you agree it is not okay for the Christian who knows about it to just say “I’ll pray for you and the abuser, for the situation to improve and that you both grow in your relationship with Jesus”. My question is, what do you say to a “Christian” who says they’ll do nothing except pray? And:
    What should church ministers and elders do in this situation?
    What should Christian friends do?
    What should Christian family members of the abuser do?
    Like I don’t mean general things like “support the victim”…. That’s obvious, but what should these people do? Should the church enact discipline and ask the abuser to leave until he repents or should he be allowed to stay in the hope hearing the Word will change him? What if allowing the abuser to stay accidentally or deliberately forces the victim out of the church either due to feeling scared or restraining orders that don’t allow the victim and abuser to be in the same building (abusers in some countries can force victims out by misusing restraining orders)?
    Assuming it is safe to do so, should mutual Christian friends, or the abuser’s Christian family confront the abuser? How do victims explain to these people that there is no such thing as “neutral” and that if they stay silent, the abuser takes that silence as actively supporting the abuse and not only keeps doing it but increases the abuse. How do you explain to Christians who don’t understand abuse that anything less than actively taking a stand against the abuse leads the abuser to feel their actions are right and justified and that the family or friend’s silence actively encourages the abuser to continue and escalate?
    So many Christians turn a blind eye to domestic violence in the church.
    I am actually begging if you could write an article on what theoretically you would do if you had a brother or son or close male friend and found out that they were beating their wife and children, and/or were abusive in other harmful ways. What a real Christian should say to such a family member or close friend, what practical support they should, not just general ideas but specifics. And address the issue of where there are no secular supports for the victim to access or where the abuser has lied and convinced those others that the abuser isn’t real. And what to do about other family members who call themselves “Christian” but believe supporting and protecting family comes before protecting the battered wife and children or who believe that violence by a man against his wife and children is just normal male behaviour and that a good wife should submit to it and if she tries to tell the authorities she is bad and needs to be punished.
    I’d so desperately love to see an article that gives practical examples of what church leaders should do about this issue and what Christian family and friends (of the abuser) should do to intervene, including acknowledging that manipulative abusers can sometimes fool secular authorities and that those in the church may be the only ones who have seen the abuse.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I wish I had answers. This is all just so overwhelming and so awful.

      All I can do is point to people who are speaking into these situations–like Flying Free with Natalie Hoffman or Sarah McDugal and her Wilderness to Wild community. She has a new app for TraumaMamas that is really good and helps women in these situations; I highly recommend it. But there are no easy answers. I wish there were. It’s just too sad.

  9. Boone

    Teach your daughters to shoot because an order of protection is just a piece of paper.

  10. GCB

    Last week I posted on here about a Catholic blogger that I follow sharing a collection of testimonies from Catholic College and University students encountering harassment, bigotry and assault on their campuses and among their peers and superiors. (you can find it here, but be forewarned of language and content:

    Over the weekend, he shared another report of a prominent Catholic ministry, Word on Fire, being unveiled of covering up sexual misconduct from one of its main spokesmen. Many of the employees-both abused and siding with the abused-had rallied around and pushed for accountability and approached other leaders, all to be hushed up and threatened with job loss or stonewalled with being “accusers,” or similar language (including calling the complaints “gossip”). The news story only broke when an employee secretly recorded a conversation at a meeting and gave the evidence to the reporter (and the victims have already filed at least two police charges as of now).

    Almost every single head minister involved with the ministry has prioritized the accused over his victims and shown far more compassion for him over them as well. They’re closely tied to other big-name Catholic Ministries so now I’m anticipating a slew of scandals from there to hit the headlines as well, especially since many of them have blatantly ignored and refused to address the Capitol Insurrection and the Christians that were present there.

    Survivors, especially Christian survivors, are running out of patience. We’re tired of being treated that wanting decency is too much to ask. We’re tired of being gaslighted. We’re tired of being neglected for the “greater good.” Wanting to be healthy and protected is not the same as refusing to love and forgive. I sympathize with the desire to bring God back into our increasingly Godless culture. That’s part of our calling. But you don’t make a safer world for Christians by ignoring the Christian people and spaces that are dangerous.

    You can read the misconduct report here:

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      So well put, GCB! I’ve been following the Word on Fire story a bit and it really sounds horrific. We need to do better than this. Abuse needs to matter.

    • Bre

      Ugh… I haven’t heard of the WOF affair yet and am now going to give it a internet search, but it doesn’t surprise me. I was listening to a pro-life podcast last year and they were talking about WOF trying to dance around issues and refusing to answer questions on things they said publicly (just context; on how I learned about this group). They then went into an aside about how WOF is money motivated and a business more than an actual ministry and my first thought was “Okay…how long till something comes out about WOF doing something?” corporate irresponsibility, abuse of finances, sex abuse, workplace sexism, ect; I didn’t have a sense of any abuse specifically, but my radar just went up for them not being focused on Jesus or Gospel issues, or even Catholic doctrine. My feel was that it was all about the money and Jesus and Catholicism were just a good selling point for their materials, even for the priests and they didn’t really care beyond the money and their public image.

  11. concerned mom

    My daughter’s college roommate was sexually harassed (pressured for sex) by a boyfriend who was a student leader in their campus ministry. The roommate was deeply distressed. Out of concern for her roommate, my daughter went to the ministry staff about it and was basically told “they would handle it”. The guy remained in student leadership and the girl would not attend ministry events because seeing the guy continue in his leadership role was traumatizing. After another meeting with the staff, my daughter and myself, we were told that staff was counseling the guy and that staff reached out to the victim but she wouldn’t talk to them. We got the feeling that staff was saying “we’ve done all we can do”. Is this acceptable? How far does a guy have to go for ministry staff to take more action?


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